Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two Old Veterans play 40k 6th Edition: Black Legion vs. Tyranids


After a very long hiatus, I am back to playing Warhammer 40k.  40k was my first miniatures game, and I started playing way back in the original Rogue Trader days of the late 80s.  I have had a Black Legion Chaos Space Marines Army (CSM) since that time, as I always liked the anti-hero role of the CSMs and I like the color black!  I played through 4th edition, and enjoyed 4th probably the most.  But due to kids and other issues, I did not play 5th edition at all.  

My buddy the Consul has also been collecting since around those days, and has continued to collect and play through every edition.  For some reason I recently got interested again and busted out my old Black Legion.  I added a Heldrake model (aka the "broken" unit of CSM at the moment) to the mix as a nod to modernizing, and have played a few games of 6th edition.  The Consul just go the new Tyranid codex, and I have the Black Legion supplement.  Since these are both regarded as under-powered lists we planned on enjoying the very definition of a casual game of 40k.  

The Matchup!
Black Legion - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement (eBook Edition) vs. Codex: Tyranids (eBook Edition)

The Black Legion represent the largest and most accomplished of the CSM forces and are therefore all "Veterans of the Long War", having a higher leadership value for an increased cost.  They also get a different list of war-gear and warlord traits compared to the vanilla CSM list.  We played an 1850 point game.  My list consisted of:
  • CSM Lord w power axe, plasma pistol, and Skull of Nergal (Eternal Warrior ftw)
  • 1 unit of close combat CSMs (9) w Rhino APC
  • 2 units of 10 CSMs w/ autocannon and flamer
  • 1 unit of 5 bikes with 2 flamers
  • 1 Heldrake flyer
  • 1 Defiler
  • 1 Land Raider
  • 3 Obliterators
As best I recall, the Consul took:
  • Hive Tyrant
  • 4 Warriors with guns
  • 4 Shrikes
  • 2 units of 30 Termagants
  • 30 Hormagaunts
  • 10 gargoyles
  • 2 Venomthropes
  • 3 Zoanthropes
  • 2 Exocrines
  • Carnifex
We rolled for a mission out of the basic rulebook and got "Purge the Alien" with the mission objectives of killing units (1vp), "Kill the Warlord" (1vp), getting "First Blood" (1vp), and "Linebreaker" (having one or more unit in the enemy's deployment zone at game end.) (1vp).  The mission also had Night Fight rules, meaning units over 12" away would get a bonus to cover save (or get one if they would otherwise not) and the Reserve rule.  

I had to set up first, and would normally have gone first but the Consul "Seized the Initiative" with a lucky roll of a 6 and went first instead!

Deployment: Here is a huge wall of Tyranids vs. the Thin Black Line


The Tyranid left has significantly more force.

The Black Legion strung out in a very thin line.  Heldrake is just posturing as he is actually in reserve. 

I am the Heldrake, and I approve of this picture.  

Turn 1: Tyranids advance. Period.

The heavies move up to contest the center. 

Chaos Bikers roll out and use flame and bolter to dispatch a bunch of Hormagaunts.

The Defiler opens up with his cannon and secondary weapons, and takes out a Zoanthrope and some termagants.

Turn 2: The Tyranid left advances to eat some yummy bikers.

Termagants advance in the center.

Spore mines land in the Chaos lines.  Apparently they can do nothing except run when landing, so they seemed less useful as they cannot attack when they land.  Did we play that wrong?

An Exocrine delivers a lethal blast of acid to the Defiler, blowing him up and leaving a crater!  First blood to the Tyranids.

The Hormagaunts swarm the bikers.

Hormagaunt melee attack dice pool.  66 dice.

The Consul rolls them bones.  

The bikers lose everyone but the champion.  He miraculously survived!

Turn 2 Chaos: Heldrake and Obliterators arrive!  Heldrake vector strikes (I guess it's like a swooping attack) the Hive Tyrant for 3 wounds! 

In the shooting phase the Obliterators kill the Venomthrope, removing his bonus to cover saves.  The Heldrake then uses its Baleflamer to finish off the hive Tyrant and some termagants.  Score a warlord kill for Chaos!  Off camera the Land Raider picks off a Zoanthrope.

Off camera my CSMs shot the spore mines so they did nothing.  At the top of turn 3 the Consul advances his Shrikes to threaten the CSMs on my right.  

A very angry swarm of 'Nids attempts to shoot down the Heldrake while the gargoyles move to engage the Obliterators.

Termagants and supporting Zoanthrope (hiding) advance on the CSMs holding my left.  

The Hormagaunts finish off the Biker champion.  Nice stack of dice!

The Champion goes down and the CSM squad below has lost a man to Shrike shooting.  They will later be assaulted but hold their position.

Obliterators lose a man/machine/demon to the Gargoyles, but win the combat.  Fearless gargoyles stay stuck in.

Chaos Turn 3: The Heldrake tries to repeat the magic, but fails to wound the other Venomthrope with its Vector strike.  The Baleflamer fails to kill the Zoanthrope, but thins the herd of Termagants.  The Zoanthrope would return the favor by putting a damage point on the Heldrake with a psychic power, and causing it to be "locked" in its current speed per the vehicle damage table.  

I am missing some photos for turn 4, but here the Chaos Lord's retinue, depleted by heavy weapons fire from the Exocrines, hides in some ruins.  

Only a few CSMs remain on my left, but are holding their own with rapid fire Bolters scything own the Termagants with ease.

The CSMs on my left are holding out against a dual assault by Termagants and Shrikes.  The durability of the Black Legion CSMs was a surprise for me.  Leadership 10 from their Aspiring Champions meant they were unlikely to flee.  

At the top of Chaos turn 4, the Terminators arrive.  The Obliterators have been tied up by the gargoyles for three turns but are slowly winning the combat.  

The Terminators teleport in, prepared to bring the cleansing fire of Chaos to the Tyranid hordes.

The Chaos Lord joins the melee on my right, turning the tide against the Tyranids.  

Only three Hormagaunts survive the combat after the Lord's arrival.

On Turn 5 the advancing Tyranid heavies destroy the Rhino...

...and the Heldrake, too!  I had no answer for the Carnifex and Exocrines all game, as they have 4 and 5 wounds, respectively, and regenerate wounds.  The Land Raider tried to hunt the Zoanthropes or Tyranid warriors instead.  

Here is the dead-eye Exocrine in question.  It takes a 6 to hit a flyer, and it also failed its saving throw.  Consul rolled a "6" result and completely destroyed the Heldrake.  

The Termagants on my right advance to support the last remaining Hormagaunt and try to finish off my 2 squads and Warlord.

The Obliterators drive off the gargoyles, who were out of synapse range (thanks to the Terminators picking off the nearest Tyranid warrior) and broke from combat off the table edge.  


The Termagants swarm my remaining troops on the right, fighting alongside their Hormagaunt brethren.

But they lose horribly, the Chaos Lord alone killing 3 Hormagaunts.  The remainder run away but in the Chaos turn were wiped out by the combined fire of the CSMs, Terminators and the Obliterators.  Teh Chaos warlord then ran off to my right to get away from the Exocrine fire.  

The Chaos firing line occupy the Tyranid deployment zone and provide a crossfire. We rolled a die and there was another turn to play.

On turn 6, the nigh-invulnerable Tyranid heavies launch a belated assault up the center.  Their fire, however, fails to finish off any of the Chaos units.

A view from my right shows how thin the armies are after 6 turns of carnage.  The Terminators concentrated fire on the last Venomthrope (hiding behind an Exocrine) and managed to bring it down.

On my left, the firing dies down as the Tyranids cannot get rid of the last couple of CSMs holding the defense line.  A few more termagants fall to bolter fire.

The Land Raider hides in the rear to avoid close combat with the advancing Tyranid heavies.  For the third turn in a row the Zoanthrope makes a saving throw and bounces a lascannon shot.  We then rolled a die and the game ended!

Final dispositions: Huge Tyranid monsters remain while Chaos has a few remnants and a rather ineffectual heavy tank.  


After 6 turns of slugging it out, the end of the game VP core was 9-5 for the Black Legion.  I scored the Kill the Warlord and Linebreaker points, and destroyed the Hive Tyrant, 2 Venomthropes, Hormagaunts, Termagants, Gargloyes, and Shrikes.  The Consul got First Blood, the Defiler, Rhino, Bikes, and Heldrake.    I had several very small units left on the board, and got lucky that the Consul couldn't quite mop them up.  Thanks again to the Consul for a great game and for being a great host!

Final Thoughts:  I really do enjoy the 6th edition rules.  They are quite detailed and more complex than the last two editions, so they can't be thought of as "dumbing down" the game.  I think they provide a satisfying and rich game.  The big hardcover rulebook is really a work of art.  There is a lot of great background and campaign./scenario ideas in there to get your creative side going.  On the downside, the rules for allocating wounds and the sheer number of special rules to consult (I suppose this gets easier with experience) slows the game down a bit.  We took about 3.5 hours to play this game, although we were being very casual.  Since I don't plan on playing in tournaments, I am not too concerned about broken lists, etc. which many folks complain about.  Also I am lucky to have collected my figures years ago and need very little to play now, which insulates me for the most part from the high prices of the current GW line.  It actually seems to me that GW is not focusing on tournament play, and that might be why some of the Codexes are not really well balanced for that.  Conversely the rules seem very good to me for casual and scenario play in the "small army" size context.  As opposed to skirmish gaming (involving maybe 20 models or so a side tops) there really is no competitor for 40k in my opinion.  I say that having played Tomorrow's War many times and having checked out Warpath. So I guess I would say, if you enjoy a really good casual rules set and can afford or already have the miniatures, the current 40k is still a great game.